Second Social Protection Conference 2023
The Social Protection Resource Centre organised a conference on the theme “Alternative Development Models and their Impact on Social Protection Policies and Practices” in Islamabad Pakistan on 18th December 2023. The conference enabled bringing social protection practitioners together to discuss the future of social protection in Pakistan. Participants from academia, policymakers, and civil society actively contributed to the discussions.
This is the second conference on social protection being organized by the Social Protection Resource Centre after hosting its first SPC in September 2022. The conference aimed at initiating new conversations on a kind of social policy framework that is grounded in theory and serves to constructively reform the current social protection approaches and initiatives.
The theme for the first session entitled “Interlinking Social with Economic Policymaking in a Productivist Paradigm” for which Dr. Fortunato Piergiuseppe, Economist, United Nation Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), was the key note speaker. The theme for the second session was “Extending Social Protection to Informal Economy Workers”, having Dr. Laura Alfers, Director, Social Protection Programme, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) as the key note speaker.
Dr. Fortunato Piergiuseppe, comprehensively discussed the economic growth and social protection approaches, highlighting that the industrial production should not have the central role in development models as it is no longer effective in providing the benefits to citizens. Dr. Piergiuseppe remarked that the best social policy is to generate better jobs, as economic growth is now possible only by rising productivity. This entails disseminating economic opportunities throughout all segments of the labor force across the regions, while providing governments a more central role in achieving this goal. He advocated for a new development model that prioritizes production and investment over finance.
Mr. Abid Raza Khan while commenting on the views expressed by Dr. Piergiuseppe, remarked that the development models are evolving, primarily due to the failure of the market-economy-driven-development-models to deliver on social protection needs. He added social protection is not an outcome of the development process, but a necessary condition for economic growth. He stressed upon the need for local, organic institutions as sound and robust safety nets.
The social protection systems need to be based upon an understanding that protection is an entitlement, it is part of the social contract. It’s neither a handout, nor a dependence, remarked Dr. Shirin Gul Sadozai, an expert on social protection.
Dr. Laura Alfers, Director, Social Protection Programme, WIEGO, shared the best practices of extending social protection to informal economy workers from the Global South. She argued that mainstream social security schemes should include informal economy workers, rather than creating separate schemes for them. This would be a more effective way of extending social protection to the informal economy.
Former Vice Chancellor of PIDE, Dr. Asad Zaman, offered an educationist perspective, linking social development with education. He critiqued the current education system in Pakistan, suggesting a need for a shift towards cultivating individuals who can contribute meaningfully to productivity.
The distinguished speakers of the conference included Dr. Fortunato Piergiuseppe, Economist, United Nation Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD); Dr. Laura Alfers, Director, Social Protection Programme, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO); Dr. Asad Zaman, Professor, Akhuwat University, Vernon, New Jersey, United States; Ms. Shirin Gul Sadozai, Senior Associate, Development Pathways, UK; Mian Kashif Saeed, Director Policy and Strategy, Punjab Social Protection Authority, Government of Punjab, Lahore; Dr. Safdar Sohail, Exective Director SPRC, Islamabad; Mr. Abid Raza Khan, in charge Department of Business and Economics, Punjab University, Lahore.